Portugal was inhabited by a variety of Celtiberian tribes in ancient times, along with pre-Celtic peoples like the Lusitanians. The Carthaginian Empire's foothold on the Iberian Peninsula enabled them to use locals as mercenaries and to exploit the region's mineral wealth, particularly the numerous copper and tin deposits. Carthage's influence disappeared following defeat to the Romans in the Second Punic War, although the Lusitanians and Gallicians provided much resistance and it took almost two centuries for Rome's final subjugation of the area's people.
Roman government lasted until the fifth century AD, when the province of Hispania became one of the first to fall under the control of an influx of Germanic tribes. The northern half of modern-day Portugal became part of the Suebic Kingdom of Gallicia and the southern half was part of the larger Visigothic Kingdom, until the latter annexed the former in 585 to unite the Iberian Peninsula.
Muslim Moors from North Africa conquered the Visigothic Kingdom in 711. Its leaders retreated to the Asturian mountains in north-west Iberia and began a guerrilla campaign to reclaim territory. The area between the Rivers Minho and Douro was recaptured in 868 and the County of Portugal was established. The Kingdom of Portugal was inaugurated under Alphonse I in 1139, and the Portuguese Reconquista was completed in 1250 when Alphonse III reclaimed the Algarve.
Portuguese sailors led the way in the Age of Discovery. Batholomew Diaz (Bartolomeu Dias) became the first European to round the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, Vasco da Gama reached India in 1498 and Pedro Álvares Cabral discovered Brazil in 1500. These explorers paved the way for settlement, leading to a global Portuguese empire spanning South America, Africa and Asia.
Back in Portugal, a succession crisis resulted in a Spanish invasion in 1580 and the formation of an Iberian union that would last until the Portuguese revolution of 1640. This period saw a decline in Portugal's fortunes as the union with Spain caused a pause in the long-held alliance with Britain and resulted in Portugal becoming embroiled in the Eighty Years War, which reduced its number of colonies and greatly diminish its trading power.
An earthquake of estimated magnitude 8.5-9.0 destroyed Lisbon in 1755. Portugal then came under pressure, suffering invasion from France and Spain in 1762, as the Bourbon monarchies sought to hamper Britain and its allies. France invaded once more under Napoleon in 1808, causing the royal court to seek refuge in Brazil and transfer their capital from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro – a situation that remained until Brazil declared its independence in 1822.
Portugal became a republic in 1911 before a 1926 coup d'état saw the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship that lasted until 1974. Democracy was then restored during the peaceful Carnation Revolution. After this, many Portuguese colonies were granted independence, although the chaotic way in which this was accomplished led to some very lengthy and bloody wars – most notably the Angolan (1975–2002) and Mozambican Civil Wars (1977–1992).
Coordinates: 39°79'N 8°08'W
Capital Coordinates: 38°44'N 9°09'W
Other Main Cities: Porto, Vila Nova de Gaia, Amadora
Official Language(s): Portuguese
Ethnic Group(s): 96.87% Portuguese, 3.13% others
Currency: Euro, EUR, €
GDP: $251.451 billion
Time Zone: WET (UTC+0 to +1)
International Dialling Code: 351
Internet TLD: .pt
Electricity Voltage: 230 Volts AC (50Hz)